Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam

Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam
Age Range
12+
Release Date
April 10, 2018
ISBN
978-0670785063
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In March 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson sent troops into Vietnam. 57,939 American soldiers would be killed and seventeen years would pass before this controversial chapter of American history concluded with the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982.

The history of this era is complex; the cultural impact extraordinary. But it's the personal stories of eight people--six American soldiers, one American nurse, and one Vietnamese refugee--that form the heartbeat of Boots on the Ground. From dense jungles and terrifying firefights to chaotic medic rescues and evacuations, each individual's story reveals a different facet of the war and moves readers forward in time. Alternating with these chapters are profiles of key American leaders and events, reminding readers what was happening at home, including Kent State, Woodstock, and Watergate.

Editor review

1 review
Excellent Resource on the Vietnam Conflict
Overall rating
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
The conflict in Vietnam was horrible, contentious, and defined the 1960s in many ways. In order to give an all-inclusive look at the many facets of this era, Partridge has arranged interviews with a wide variety of people who were actively involved at the time. There are also chapters relating to people who have since passed away but were essential to what was going on; Nixon, Johnson, Walter Cronkite, and others. This offers a lot of interesting perspectives, from soldiers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds to medics, nurses, protesters, and even Country Joe McDonald.

Flipping perspective from the home front to the battle front we hear how events abroad were received and interpreted by those involved, and those who were witnessing events through television or campus activity. Arranged in chronological order, we are able to see the changes in the political administration, the opinions of citizens, and the conditions for soldiers as well as ordinary people trying to survive in Vietnam. This historical progression continues up until the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. in the early 1980s.
Good Points
This is an essential purchase for middle school and high school libraries. It is readable enough for students who are interested in military events to read for pleasure, and a wealth of information for research. Along with Russell Freedman's Vietnam: A History of the War, Boots on the Ground is hugely helpful in understanding both the events and the emotional environment of the US during this time.

I found it particularly interesting that the author was a senior in high school in 1968, and was active in protesting the war while on a college campus... for a while. The most striking part of the entire book for me was the foreword, since her personal reflections are indicative of what I believe the vast majority of the population felt about the conflict. She and friends were traveling and picked up a hitchhiker (people did, then) who turned out to have been returning from Vietnam. Since the group was not particularly supportive of the military, they maintained a polite silence but let the man spend the night with them rather than turn him out in the cold. I recently read a fiction book that talked about the problems faced by a conscientious objector who was vilified by his neighbors. While admittedly very young at the time (I attended kindergarten in Kent, Ohio starting in the fall of 1970 and my father was a graduate student at Kent State), my recollections were more that few people talked about Vietnam, but everyone was sensitive that those who served had a difficult time, and those who lost family members also had a hard time dealing with the situation. The foreword seems to corroborate this feeling.
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